Month: September 2011

The Wiseman Welly Walk

Hawkstone Park – Sunday 16th October
Wiseman Welly WalkThe Robert Wiseman Dairies site in Market Drayton is organsising a sponsored walk in aid of Severn Hospice. The walk takes place in the unique setting of the 18th Century Follies within the grounds of Hawkstone Park.
Entry costs are £15 for an adult or £10 for a child to enter which includes a pair of Wiseman balck and white cowprint wellies! (£10 or £5 with no wellies.) Groups of four or more walkers buying wellies will receive a £10 discount, while any group of four or more walkers who are not buying wellies will receive a £5 discount.
You can decide on the day which walk you would like to do. The shorter route is suitable for young children and terrain buggies, while the longer route is more extreme with majestic woodlands and caves to explore.
The Wiseman Welly Walk is open to all ages, we just ask that under 16s be accompanied by an adult.
Full details and entry forms are available here on the Severn Hospice website. Otherwise contact Severn Hospice appeals team on 01743-354450.

Have you lost a cat? (13 Sep 2011)

The wandering cat
We have been contacted by a local resident who lives near the centre of Hodnet about a black and white cat which has moved into their garden.
They say, “We live at Hodnet Court and we have a large black and white cat which seems to have taken up residence in our garden. It seems to be quite distressed as it is meowing constantly. Can you help me to find its owners please?”
The picture to the right shows a rather distinctive white stripe on the cat’s rear left leg.
If you are the owner of the cat, or know who it belongs to,  please email Wendy.

Trugg and Barrows garden diary, September 2011

No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.
– John Donne
Grasses – Form and Texture in the Garden
It seems that whenever you visit a garden or read anything on grasses it is always all of one thing or all of another. Either the only grass in a garden is lawn or a stately if vicious Pampas Grass, or ornamental grasses are everywhere and more traditionally minded gardeners can be turned off.
Ornamental grasses have gained a huge following amongst gardeners over recent years but are still seen by many as simply a new fashion which will wane eventually. Yet grasses were being talked about in serious gardening circles as early as the mid-nineteenth century.
Grasses appeal on several levels. Modern ecological concerns mean that the ability of many grasses to withstand drought or to bind together soil in flood prone areas makes them sound investments.
Secondly, as more people see the benefits of gardening but have less time to garden intensively, grasses provide ornamental features coupled with comparatively few maintenance requirements. Grasses are amongst the most trouble free of all plants. Rust can affect some species in warm wet weather, or mice or voles may eat the roots in a harsh winter, but these are relatively small concerns.
Above all grasses have a unique aesthetic appeal which can enhance all our plantings. Although the colours are often more muted than those of traditional garden plants, grasses offer more subtle and sophisticated benefits of form, line, texture, translucency, movement and sound.
The best gardens reflect changes over time just as we observe in the natural landscape. Nothing conjures up visions of summer like an English meadow bedecked with Ox-eye daisies and other wild flowers. Yet the backbone of this scene is the 80% or so of grasses that make up any meadow. As spring moves to summer and flowers fade grasses turn from green to gold and ripple in the sun.
Grasses are easy to grow and individual species are often tolerant of a wide range of cultural conditions. As with all gardening it is simply a matter of putting the right plant in the right place. Most grasses thrive in sun. Stipa gigantea will thrive even where the soil is dry and free draining, its stems drying to a luminescent gold under these conditions. Miscanthus on the other hand is more adaptable and will tolerate full sun where there is moisture at the root. Many will also tolerate some shade although the quality of variegation will vary according to the amount of light.
Though the manner of spread of all grasses is the same, by lateral shoots, they can be classified as either runners or clumpers. Runners spread rapidly either overground by stolons or beneath the soil by rhizomes and both may be found within the same genus. Running grasses are often most useful as groundcover or for soil stabilization. Clumpers tend to stay put and though they may take longer to reach maturity they are more predictable, it is simply a matter of doing some research as one might do for any plant.
As a genus grasses have much to offer the open minded gardener.
In the Kitchen Garden
Chilly mornings, heavy dews, the tick, tick, tick and wistful song of a robin, flocks of finches feeding on thistle heads, swallows chattering excitedly from roof tops. The first leaves showing yellows, reds, purples and oranges in a myriad of hues giving warning of the intense spectacle to come. Increased mole activity, the acidic smell of tannin, softer light and a thousand other signs show that late summer is quickly turning to early autumn.
Autumn in the garden is not only a time of year for change, in sights, sounds, smells but it also marks a change in a gardener’s daily routine. Many non gardeners ask me, ‘so what do you do in the autumn and winter?’ The question should be ‘so how do you fit all that work into the time?’ More on that subject another day.
Production in the kitchen garden is winding down now and the race is on to get as much of the garden put to bed before the gardener has to move on to the autumn and winter jobs in the pleasure grounds. This month, as well as fruit and vegetable picking, cutting of the box hedging in the kitchen garden has occupied most of the working time. It is now very late for this job and it needs finishing quickly in order to lower the risk from the disfiguring and potentially fatal box blight. This fungal disease attacks during the cool damp weather prevalent in autumn. Large patches of the 800 m or so we have in the kitchen garden has suffered in the last 5 years from attacks from box blight. However, with determination we are now holding the disease at arms length.
This has been one of the most productive years in the KG for a good while. I think this is mainly due to the dryer weather conditions which have all kinds of knock on effects. Weeds grow less and are more easily dealt with, it is possible to get on the soil more often and more time can be spent growing rather than just spending time fending off nature. Carrots, for instance, have done particularly well this year benefiting from dryer soil conditions which has meant fewer slugs and less rot. Peas, broad beans and runner beans have all been excellent. Low numbers of cabbage white butterflies have helped the brassicas, especially the cauliflower and the broccoli which can be a bit hit and miss some years.
The vegetable garden does not have to be unproductive through the winter, for example hardy varieties of lettuce and cabbage can be grown. Spring Cabbages need an open, sunny position together with some protection against harsh winter winds. Grow hardy varieties such as Primo, Savoy King or Savoy Siberia.
A light well-drained soil is preferable. Nothing will damage them more than water-logged conditions in the cold winter. Don’t add manure or nitrogen rich feeds to the soil as this will only encourage vulnerable soft green growth.
Generally, late July to early August is the best time to sow Spring cabbage. If you have some kind of crop protection you can still have a go this year. Spring cabbage matures earlier and more reliably under cloches.
Please note: images have been removed from this pages because some of them may have been used without permission.

Hawkstone Fun Ride

Sunday 11th September 2011 – Start at 10.00 a.m. final riders away at 2.30 p.m.
In region of 50 senior and 30 junior jumps, all of which are optional, with the rare opportunity to ride through 11 to 12 miles of the most beautifully unspoilt Shropshire countryside. Come and enjoy a fantastic day out full of adventure and excitement
Ticket costs:   Adults £15.00    Juniors £12.00
Refreshments available